Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Little choices

I have been thinking a lot about life lately and about how who we are, what we accomplish, and how we live is largely a result of the little choices we make all day, day after day.

Sure, the "big" choices in life matter a lot. Who we marry, if we have children and how many, where we live, what profession we choose, etc. are all big choices that will have huge impacts on our lives. (I read once that the decision we make that has the biggest impact on our long-term happiness in life is who we marry. I did REALLY great with that decision!!!) :)

But just as much, if not more so, I think it is the little choices we make daily that really shape our lives.

Do I work an extra hour or play with my kids?
Do I take the time each day to really connect with Josh?
Do I say prayers or just go to bed because I am tired?
Do I smile?
Do I get stressed out/upset over little things or count my blessings?
Do I go to church on Sunday?
Do I show love and support to my friends?
How do I handle/respond to life's challenges?
Who do I talk to during the day and make time for (outside of my family?)
Do I read a book or watch TV? (And what do I choose to read/watch?)
The list could go on and on and on, although most of them boil down to "what do I give my time, energy, and attention to?" in one way or another.

Living a healthy lifestyle is the same way. It is not just one big decision, it is many, many small decisions every day.

Do I get up when the alarm goes off and exercise, or stay in bed because I am tired?
Do I really want to eat that?
Am I drinking lots of water?
Do I really want to eat that?
Stairs or elevator?
Do I really want to eat that?
Do I run even though it is raining (or snowing, or hot, or whatever)?
Do I really want to eat that?
Watch TV late or get some extra sleep?
Do I really want to eat that?
Am I making time to exercise?
Do I really want to eat that? :)

Again, the list could go on and on. When I decided to change my life and get healthy, I did not have any plans at that time to become a competitive marathoner. I did not even have plans to become a runner at that time. I never imagined I would lose over 80lbs. Slowly, I started making small choices that impacted my health (physical and mental), my fitness, my happiness, my confidence and my life, and was amazed as the changes came.

I started making better choices on what to eat and drink. I started choosing to make time to exercise. I started making time for myself each day.  I never could have imagined that just over three years later I would be where I am today. As I continue to strive to be the best athlete and runner I can be, I continue to make the little decisions every day that help me stay on track and help me improve.

And as I strive to be the best wife, mother, friend, and person I can be, I also pay attention to all of the little decisions I make every day, to ensure that my time, energy, focus, emotion, attention, heart, soul, and spirit are focused on what they should be as much as possible.

Here are two quotes on this topic from Gordon B. Hinckley that I just love.

"Have you ever looked at a great farm gate that opens and closes? If you look at the hinge, it moves ever so little. Just a little movement of that hinge creates tremendous consequences out on the perimeter. That is the way it is with our lives. It is the little decisions that make the great differences in our lives."

"The course of our lives is seldom determined by great, life-altering decisions. Our direction is often set by the small, day-to-day choices that chart the track on which we run. This is the substance of our lives—making choices."

What choices have you made that have had the biggest impact on your life?


Kathy said...

Oh, this post really made me smile. Thank you! I love the Hinckley quote.

And, no, I really shouldn't have eaten that ... :/

Team Serrins Springfield said...

I hope this isn't double-posting. It flashed weird after I hit submit.

Wonderful post. I think one of the important choices we can make is forgiveness. It's so important to our soul to forgive. And it's not just about forgiving someone for some huge thing that went wrong 25 years ago. It can be forgiving the driver who cut you off or the lady who said something rude when your child lay down in the aisle in the grocery story (hypothetically of course, none of our children would ever do such a thing). At some point, at every point even, you have to ask yourself the question "how long do I want to hold onto this?" In our family we actually ask that question and then answer it. Sometimes we want to be sad or angry or hurt another 10 seconds or 5 minutes or overnight. But then it is time to forgive and let some light into your heart.

Jen@runfortheboys said...

Great words of wisdom here :)

I LOVE the "Do I really want to eat that?" question. I need to ask myself that more often. Sometimes the answer might be yes, but I bet more often than not if I would just take a moment and think about it the answer would be no.

{lifeasa}RunningMom said...

To commit time to me post-baby and run. I am terrible at putting others first and have been all my life. I am finally getting it right and realizing that time for me makes me better for others. :)

Love your post!

Terzah said...

There's a lot of truth in this post. My best "big" decisions were leaving journalism and marrying Dan. The latest little decision? Not to eat those M&Ms at work! :^)

Jill said...

Those are great quotes, love them! It's hard sometimes to make the right choices all the time, and I know I haven't lived up to the expectations I have put upon myself with food, but now that things are less stressful at home (somewhat), I think the choices will be much, much better! So far, no sugar for me today ;).

Annet said...

Love both of those quotes. At the moment, it seems like our life is full of big choices and they are overwhelming us a bunch, making it harder to make the little choices correctly. But a whole lot of little choices got us to this point, so definitely agree with that.

My little choices are much more around the should I get up and exercise or sleep and too often, I tend to fall into the sleep side. My little food choices in the last few weeks have been much less about should i eat that and more around am I cooking again or are we going the easy way and choosing cooking every time and it really making better outcomes for my family.

Mark Matthews said...

I'm the master at asking all those questions and then doing the opposite of my answer. In other good news, I rocked my charity funds today, and I'm definitely going to New York. Stay well and hope to see you there.

On the Right Track said...

Well I think that post put things in perspective for many of us...What we choose and How we choose to do them, will forever shape, change and mold us as individuals.

Life is short and we should cherish it every second we have...thanks for the reminder!

Jen@runfortheboys said...

Tonight at the grocery store I chose frozen yogurt instead of ice cream :-p heeeeyyyyy, it's a start!!!

Kami said...

Just read this article tonight, and then read your post. Thought you might like it...

Yolanda said...

You have so much wisdom.

fancy nancy said...

Choosing where to live....We gave up our jobs and the knowledge of an area we had called home for 15 years. It was the best thing we could have done for our family!

Julia said...

another fantastic post dear friend! my softball coaches used to drive into our brains that "its the little things" that win games. who cares if you make the one diving big catch if you dont get the other 15 easy plays. we used to just laugh but its so true. after college and softball i got pretty unhealthy and lazy. and decided being fit wasnt important to me any more. until it was and i didnt know where to start. i just tried to start small and work my way back up. and im so glad i did because i feel like i surpassed where i ever was before and it feels good:)

Meredith said...

Love this! I've realized that often times when I am fighting against doing something, it's often the exact thing I should do. Spiritual warfare is everywhere and even in those small choices we need to think about what the effects will be. Absolutely LOVE this post!

Suz and Allan said...

Those are both great quotes. I love the analogy with the farm gate because I can clearly picture the big gate on our farm at home when I read that.

Cindy said...

i LOVE this!! it's so true...small choices made the biggest impact. in jan 2008 i was tired of being doughy and decided to join an exercise bootcamp with an old friend. i started to exercise, and loved it and introduced running into my life. i ran a few 10k races and half marathons. i felt happier and healthier, and realized that i was a workaholic. i quit my stressful job to go work at a place where i was paid less, but am much happier, and now i finally have balance. because i had work/life balance, i had time to train for a marathon, and ran my first in 2011. i am now a huge advocate for healthy eating and exercise...i honestly feel like a different person, and when i think back to who i was back in jan 2008, it's like i'm looking at a stranger! all these changes because of one small change.

you rock!